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Don’t restrict free speech. Restrict the right to carry guns at potentially explosive public events

August 23, 2017

The Los Angeles Times,

Editorial Board,

August 23, 2017-

Russian playwright Anton Chekhov noted that, as a dramatic device, a gun introduced in the first act of a play must be fired in the second, otherwise it has no reason to be there. Let’s hope that’s not as true in life as it is in art, now that we have an armed racist right squaring off against leftist counter-protesters in public confrontations. We’ve already seen violence, even death, at these rallies. But the potential is for much worse if participants continue to carry guns into such provocative situations.

The question is how to minimize the risk without trampling peoples’ constitutional rights. The 1st Amendment to the Constitution establishes the right to free speech and peaceful assembly. The 2nd Amendment creates a right to own firearms. Neither is absolute. Nevertheless, firearms have become a significant presence in our culture, and only a dozen states prohibit people from carrying them openly in public. What’s more, over 40 states have NRA-backed “preemption” laws, which to varying degrees limit the ability of local governments to adopt stricter gun regulations than the state as a whole.

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